Nothing proves anything

That's the title of a fairly philosophical essay at Counterpunch about why rational people are increasingly frustrated by the current forms of "argumentation". Because facts just don't matter any more, as we have seen repeatedly: DNC cheating, Hillary's emails, Syrian gas attacks, Skripal poisoning, Iran agreement withdrawl, accusations of unprovoked Iranian attacks (in the face of 100 self-admitted Israeli attacks on Iranian forces). The facts just don't matter.

Although the Cliff Notes of a philosophical argument are suspect, I have tried to snip a summary of the author's main argument.

I call this a new paradigm, perhaps modeled on an erroneous rendition of a postmodern mindset in which truth is not a component of reality but what we ourselves say about ourselves, our actions, and the world we inhabit. We inhabit our own narratives, a “worlding” of what we make of anything.

The erroneous part enters when we then assume that “we” is first person singular and that the “I” is somehow free and outside dominating narratives of all stripes, present and past. This misconception and illusion leads to the meme/algorithm that “nothing proves anything to me except what I choose to accept.”

This describes our “post-truth” state. It is a far cry from the view that everything or nothing are both chosen and proven within a context in which choice and proof are always already narrated. By this, I mean that we live within our culture, in the broad sense of culture as Raymond Williams defines it as a whole way life, in an inherited and accreting array of narrations of the world. Our personal narration is shaped and emerges thusly. It’s a process, as we are now fond of saying. The cultural narrative may be a monologue shared by all or a confusion of clashing tweets, vying for supremacy. Nonetheless, such comprises a narrated reality frame within which we struggle to make everything mean something.

Because our president is no more than a kind of representing avatar of the post-truth attitude, a presidency we were not prepared for but for whom we have already prepared the way, and he is a passing presence, I find it more worthwhile to focus on what will remain after he’s gone.

And that is this deep and dark revelation now inhabiting the American mass psyche: “Nothing proves anything.”

- Joseph Natoli, That’s the Problem: Nothing Proves Anything

We now have taken the infamous point that Dick Cheney or one of his ilk made (i.e., we're an empire now; we create reality.) and applied it at the level of individuals. Trump is one example. Hillary Clinton is another. Various liars at the DoJ and FBI add to the roster. They all have complete fantasy stories running, "emperor's new clothes"-level lies. But the corporate media goes right along with all the BS.

You might say that high government officials have been behaving this way since ancient Greece. But, the acquiesence of the Fourth Estate - a Constitutionally protected group that is an integral part of modern democracy - to this naked lying means that the democracy is dead. Good candidates who report the facts don't matter, as we saw with the 2016 version of Bernie.

This reminds me of something I heard about ancient Rome (which may be apochryphal). Romans had skivvy lawyers, just like us moderns. By the end of the emmpire, lawyers with enough money could find someone to lie about anything. Law courts degenerated into bogus witnesses lying at each other. In the end, as the empire crumbled, "trial by combat" was instituted to cut through all the legal BS.

While the story may be apochryphal, the point is that "nothing proves anything" soon degenerates into "someone will lie about anything". And from their, we go down to a Hobbesian nature - nasty, brutish, and short.

I think we are at the edge of a major mental breakdown as a society. People not only don't know the truth; they don't care if they don't. They accept whatever they are told by TPTB: Russian plots, Syrian gas attacks, Iranian strikes. They could replace the corporate media with Goebbels propaganda apparatus and no one would notice the difference. Oh, wait...

up
48 users have voted.

Comments

A young lawyer goes to see his rabbi. "I'm in something of a spiritual crisis," he says. "Given a certain set of facts, I can make them mean one thing if I explain them one way and the opposite when I explain them another way. I don't know what's real anymore."

The rabbi thought for a moment and said "Can you prove that you have no nose?"
"Easily," the lawyer replied. "First of all--"
At that moment the rabbi punched him in the nose as hard as he could and asked "What hurts?"

Maybe what we need is a good punch in the nose. Hopefully a metaphorical one will suffice.

up
27 users have voted.

They say that there's a broken light for every heart on Broadway
They say that life's a game and then they take the board away
They give you masks and costumes and an outline of the story
And leave you all to improvise their vicious cabaret-- A. Moore

Hawkfish's picture

@Johnny Q

“Mother Nature cannot be fooled.”

up
5 users have voted.

It's like two plus two equals fish! -- The Big Short

And I don't mean any of his post Alzheimer's delusions. For him and his remoras truth was an enemy. They denied its existance, especially when it interfered with their ambitions. Whenever someone called them on ther lies and proved it, they simply repeated the lie again and again until the truth gave up in frustration.
There was a difference between Reagan and Trump however - Reagan demanded an alternate reality, whenever truth was invoked they repeated the same lie and stuck to it, creating their version of things by force of will. Trump says anything, even contradicting what he'd said in the previous sentence. There is no truth, there is no reality, nothing makes sense, not even preconcieved notions - just whatever you want right now, only desire matters.

up
29 users have voted.

A PROUD Hillary hater since 1993

@doh1304 LOL, good one! My parents were the lemming like voters who adored Reagan's denial of reality. "Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon are the best God damned Presidents this country ever had" said my dad right around the time of Iran-Contra. That was the one and only time I attempted to argue with that man about politics. Hard right winger who just denied any counterpoint. He was good in his hard ass way, just looked at you with utter coldness that you could possibly think any other way. I loved my dad but damn, right now I look at his picture in my house most days and say "ya happy now, asshole?"

up
16 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

No false WMDs or "Gaddafi's troops are raping women" this time. They are telling us what they want to do in Iran and that's to overthrow its government.

Trump's presidency is not an abnormality even though it looks like it is. He is following the same agendas as the previous presidents followed, it's just not important to him to hide it like they did.

up
30 users have voted.

The eulogy of our species will one day read “here lies humanity; departed at the hand of greed and compliance”

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

It is a far cry from the view that everything or nothing are both chosen and proven within a context in which choice and proof are always already narrated.

He'd like to think it's a far cry, the same way I'd like to think that what's going on now in feminism and racial justice movements is a far cry from the identity politics I and others practiced in the 80s. But the horrible reality is that the current post-truth state was enabled by the post-structural theories of the 70s, 80s, and 90s in the same way that the current crap that passes for social reform movements was enabled by the identity politics we practiced back then. The intervening stage between what the poststructural theorists and those identity politics activists actually meant and the versions we've got now is co-optation of a most thorough sort. The powerful figured out they could have a lot more success if they stopped simply touting the old conservative line and adopted the languages of various liberal and left-wing movements. From the concept of tolerance to the idea that there is no such thing as "truth," they have co-opted it all and used it to great effect.

Those of us practicing identity politics in the 80s and early 90s had the notion that Black people, women, and sexual minorities (among others) had a particular identity from which emerged a particular understanding of society that wasn't shared by those outside the group. It followed that their perspectives were not interchangeable with the perspectives of those outside the group, and that they might, from time to time, need their own space to share their experiences apart from majority society. This cluster of beliefs has been re-tooled and is now the primary weapon of choice for the powerful. It's been reduced to the notion that Black people, women, LGBT people, etc., are always unassailably right, and anyone who disagrees with any particular Black person, LGBT person, woman, etc., must be a racist, a sexist, or a homophobe. This creates whole categories of people with whom it is impossible to disagree--very useful to a system intent on suppressing dissent.

I've thought a lot about this, and what I've concluded is that, without knowing it, what I really meant in the 80s when I practiced identity politics was the same as the following exchange from Norma Rae:

Norma: "I've never seen a Jew before. You don't look any different to me."

Reuben: "We are, though."

Norma: "What makes you different?"

Reuben: "History."

What I was really arguing against back then was a sloppy and often bad-faith belief in one big homogenous humanity, where gender, race, ethnicity, and every other social category "didn't matter." In effect, what I was arguing against was the idea that selfhood could remain magically unaffected by history and culture. I was arguing for an idea of the self that acknowledged the effects of history and culture on the self, in all their multiplicity.

What I was not arguing for was the idea that people are always already automatically right based on their membership in a historically oppressed group. Nor was it the notion that, rather than ending unjust social practices, we could simply insert members of oppressed groups into high positions in an unjust system without changing a single policy, and that would fulfill the requirements of justice.

up
26 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal us now are very skilled at co-opting, distorting and taking down anything seen as a threat. I too am sickened by their cynical use of race and gender and whatever to basically sell shit, sell themselves and keep their noses in the trough. They are as bad as Repugnants in so many ways. They taint everything they touch.

up
23 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@lizzyh7

heh, good one, lizzy. It's simply amazing isn't how people can turn a blind eye on corrupt people. Two of my family members worshipped the ground Obama walked on and refused to acknowledge the things that he did after they gave Bush such shit for doing the same things. I just been wondering how we could slip red pills into the water supply to get people to awaken. I haven't come up with anything. Yet, but I'm not giving up ..

IMG_2061.JPG

up
11 users have voted.

The eulogy of our species will one day read “here lies humanity; departed at the hand of greed and compliance”

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal @Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal
trouble.

I hear what you say about social/group attitudes in the 1980s. As a privileged white male educated person in technology, I did not have to wrestle with those things then. I think the 1980s attitudes were first conceived in the period before philosophy imploded. After the implosion, all the deconstructionists were let loose, with the resultant Identity Politics crapola and the "nothing proves anything" attitude running amock.

My concerns are much more philosophical. As someone who listened to Maturana and Varela, took a look at how Buddhism had the results of Cognitive Science a thousand years earlier, and generally thought that Kant's Critique of Pure Reason was the height of legitimate philosophy, what currently passes for philosophy is barbarism. These people claim to be the best thinkers around, and their contribution is this solipsistic agitprop? A society whose intellectuals become corrupt is a society on the way out. We are that society.

When I say "philosphy is dead", I'm referring to the massive hemoraghing of academic philosophers in the 1980s. This was a period when Cognitive Science demonstrated that a lot of philosophising bore no relationship to how people's brains actually worked. The upshot was that many philosophers fled into cognitive science, which had already won its own fight against B.F. Skinner's creepy Pavlovian behaviorism. It was also a period when academia began to shed the humanities, and philosophy was a humanity.

Computer science also played a role in knocking philosophy off its throne, as AI became the place for highbrow posuers to situate themselves. The non-technically oriented philosophers fled into advertising, which increased the toxicity of an already toxic endeavor.

Unfortunately, there still is philosophy today; but it is all of the deconstructionist variety. Even someone I used to respect, Jurgen Habermas (of Frankfurt School fame) became good friends with Jacques Derrida, ur-deconstructionist. Somehow, Habermas has decided that the hermenuetics (if you don't know the word, then this isn't going to make sense. even the wikipedia article reads like a massive textbook) was consistent with the molecular acid that Derrida was peddling.

Perhaps I'm just an old fogey with an out-of-date attachment to scientific proof and some semblance of logic. But I miss a world where reason was valued.

Apologies if I did not directly address your response.

up
20 users have voted.

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

What I was really arguing against back then was a sloppy and often bad-faith belief in one big homogenous humanity, where gender, race, ethnicity, and every other social category "didn't matter." In effect, what I was arguing against was the idea that selfhood could remain magically unaffected by history and culture. I was arguing for an idea of the self that acknowledged the effects of history and culture on the self, in all their multiplicity.

What I was not arguing for was the idea that people are always already automatically right based on their membership in a historically oppressed group. Nor was it the notion that, rather than ending unjust social practices, we could simply insert members of oppressed groups into high positions in an unjust system without changing a single policy, and that would fulfill the requirements of justice.

When you talk of

an idea of the self that acknowledged the effects of history and culture on the self, in all their multiplicity.

you are saying things exactly the way I would have said them at that time. You were acknowledging differences, but asking people to focus on what we had in common - laws, culture, societal goals of equality. You were acknowledging what hermenuetics called "the horizon" of what you know.

IdPol tossed all that out the window. They piss on goals of equality. Their formuaton is worse than the old segregationsist "separate but equal", because it is separate by un-equal, with each IdPol group claiming cultural supremacy.

The problem is that the deconstructionists have provided the philosophical ammunition for IdPol by stretching hermenuetics beyond its breaking point. They deny that there is anything in common between people, because each person "creates their own world". IdPol is nothing more than tribalism. But that suits TPTB. Let's you and him fight over the scraps while the billionaire class walks away with the loot.

Myself, I still try to think in terms of society at large. I have not tribalized myself. I'm not a "deplorable"; I'm not a fake Clintonite "liberal"; I'm not a McResistance Sanders-ite. I'm still trying to play hermenuetics the old-fashioned way:

yes, we are all unique individuals, but that does not mean we all have our own unique societies.

Societies, contrary to that bitch Thatcher, do exist and are made up of individuals. The nature of the society is determined by how the individuals in it relate to each other. IdPol says to relate by denouncing and demanding. My way says to relate by conversing and compromising.

up
13 users have voted.
Wink's picture

the notion that Black people, women, LGBT people, etc., are always unassailably right, and anyone who disagrees with any particular Black person, LGBT person, woman, etc., must be a racist, a sexist, or a homophobe."
@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal
yep. Which is why "Identity Politics" is so much bull$h!t, and why ToP is in the same boat.

up
7 users have voted.

the little things you can do often are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.

gulfgal98's picture

@Wink that we cannot address economic inequality because we have to focus upon social inequality first. No wonder I despise that place. They are still using identity politics to divide us into smaller and smaller groups. In other words, (a) we cannot walk and chew gum at the same time, and (b) he is denying that fact that economic inequality and social inequality are very much intertwined, something MLK recognized and fought for.

up
16 users have voted.

"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West "...isn't the problem here that the government takes on, arbitrarily and without justification, an adversarial attitude towards its citizenry?" ~CantStoptheMacedonianSignal

Wink's picture

@gulfgal98

up
6 users have voted.

the little things you can do often are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.

"The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore." He continued "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do"
- Karl Rove

up
20 users have voted.

@Snode

up
12 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@Snode
to study the realities the empire created. We turn off the radio. Idiots. I often heard the elderlies in Germany saying, that they didn't read through "Mein Kampf". Basically when your guts tells you everything is bullshit then you stop caring and just focus on your own survival.
Do we have to study 'reality'? My guts tell e what kind of realities mess with my mind.

Crawling back into my bed and sleeping it out.

up
14 users have voted.

@mimi

Yes, objecting to the Nazis in 1942 Germany would have been quite fatal. Best to just focusing on survival. But, objecting to the Nazis in 1932 was the right thing to do.

The question is, is America today, which is going the "friendly fascism" route, in a 1932 condtion or a 1942 condition?

I tend to think that we are in 1942, except that instead of the Gestapo sending you to a KZ, today's PTB simply blacklist you so that you can't find any decent work, have the police constantly monitor and harrass you, and generally wait until you either opiod-icide yourself or wind up in one of the for-profit hellholes we call prisons.

Best to go back to sleep, and don't bother sharing your nightmares with the sheeple. They also want to stay asleep.

up
14 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@arendt
compelled to come back to think aloud about the "timing" issue, of what it meant to not have objected to the Nazis in 1932 and who did and who did not, and when they started to object, if at all, in 1942.

I am born 1948. I can only go by the people in my family that I have experienced myself during their time they were still alive. I have no formal education other than in Science, no historical, sociological or philosophical educational class work at all. So, bear (?) with me, that I go over this in a strange way.

My father (born 1918) in 1932 was 14 years old. I think he must have been at least open minded enough to possibly having been doubtful. I think he learned it during a trip to the US as an exchange student in 1936. He had eye-opening experiences about racism there, but that didn't help him to not have himself racist feelings in his later life.

My mother (born 1919) in 1932 was 13 years old. I think she was aware of her surroundings and just confused and scared. Her mother was not critical against the Nazis, her father was. It was a politically divided family.

My aunt (born in 1902) in 1932 was 30 years old. She was exited about everything, the Communists and the Nazis, and she enjoyed the street battles between them in the 1920 and early 1930ies. Ahh, exiting. She was definitely NOT objecting to Hitler and rather a supporter. She later was raped in Berlin by Russian soldiers several times and had a "Russian" baby. She lived for her baby and kept her Nazi supporting ideas after the war as well. We couldn't recognize that. She kept it quite well hidden. Her "Russian" son was 'smart' enough to never talk about the fact that he worked to get some East Germans through the tunnels under the Berlin Wall to West Berlin. So, you know, who cares who are the fascist totalitarians, the Communists or the Nazis, doesn't matter, when it comes to the lack of humanity on both sides.

My uncle (born in 1912) in 1932 was 20years old and he was an enthusiastic Nazi supporter. He even was in the SS. I learned this only in the 1990ies and though he was a very loving uncle on a personal level, he was still voicing some ideas that let us suspect he was still a Nazi to the amazement of all my cousins, who just couldn't believe how he was thinking. Me neither.

My grandfather on the father's side. No recollection or record of his political views other than it was said he was a business man and never talked politics. I was six years old when he died.

My grandfather on the mother's side (died before I was born). He was the most critical against the Nazis and very disappointed to see his son became a Nazi supporter. Something he was not able to change. During wwI my grandfather was himself in the military (low level cavallerie) and I think those experiences made him the only one engaged enough to voice his criticism against the Nazis.

Other uncles on my father's side, all born shortly before or in WWI, were weaseling survivors. One of them was in the German Wehrmacht, so definitely not critical enough to not join the military, another one was an economist by education and one who didn't talk much. Another one was a PH.D. kind of guy and always meany arrogant. He didn't talk either. They all were business men. No one was known to have objected, nor being vocally in support of the Nazis. I call them in my mind the weasel business smarty pants.

My mother in 1934 was in Pastor Niemoeller's church and was scared about the SS being in the church to "look after (surveille) Niemoeller". My father in 1938 was sent to the "Arbeitsdienst" somewhere in Holland and I think he got second thoughts about his future. In 1939 he was drafted into the German Wehrmacht and got captured (by Russians) and wounded (by US bombs) and became POW of the Russians til end of 1947. All I remember he said was 'that we all were betrayed' and that he started crying when remembering that they were forced to dig their own graves. He didn't die as fast as they expected with his wounds and survived in the Russian camps, after some good doctor saved his life by amputating him.

In 1942 nobody supported the Nazis anymore. It took the invasion into Russia for all of them to realize that Hitler was a crazy batshit lunatic. At least that is what I remember having them said.

From all of that, I just conclude that one has to pay attention, if accusing a person of not having 'seen' the fascist part of their political environment at a certain time. How old they were at that time? If they were in full adulthood at that time, what their personal historical experiences have been beforehand.

My niece (born 1974) asked my sister if grandpa (born 1918) was really a Nazi and we really couldn't answer the question. We wanted to believe and think he was not. But how could we have a clair voyance about a 16 year old during the mid 1930ies ?

Most of the persons in my family who were adults in 1932 did not object to the Nazis. The only one who did was my grandfather on the mother's side.(born around the 1880ies), who fought in wwI and probably was the only one, who had enough sense to 'see through the Nazis'.

I also sometimes wonder what the difference between tribalism and racism and modern day identity politics is. May be you have an idea about that? And can try to formulate the differences, if there are any in your opinion?

It's a subject I am genuinely interested in, but never had the intellectual rigor to study it.

Oh and just to add later on in life I observed how highly revolutionary African leaders captured the hopes of Africans in their fight against white colonialist, just to become two decades later as fascist and racist as the colonialist they fought against in the beginning.

Since those times I am very careful to accuse someone to not have "seen" through their political probably fascist or totalitarian environment.

Just saying .. it's complex.

up
8 users have voted.

@mimi for writing so much about your personal history. I never paid much to ww2 growing up, but find myself reading more and more about it.

up
1 user has voted.
Wink's picture

"We," The Left,
@mimi
spend so much time chasing our tail trying to keep up with what they're doing, by the time "we" figure it out They are two, three steps ahead of "us." Yet again. There's no way to cure that when the -ahem- "Liberal Media" gives Them protection. It's been working for a long time for The Right, and they're not about to change a thing.

up
5 users have voted.

the little things you can do often are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.

@mimi

I also sometimes wonder what the difference between tribalism and racism and modern day identity politics is. May be you have an idea about that? And can try to formulate the differences, if there are any in your opinion?

Barest outline:

1. I think tribalism has some kind of genetic basis. I think humans (and primates before them) lived in groups. Within those groups there was sharing, but between groups there could be fighting for territory. But, there could also be negotiation and compromise.

We have tons of tribal situations. Places like the Balkans or the Caucuses or full of tribes (that have no genetic basis) that constantly feud, make momentary alliances, etc. There is a famous book about the Middle East called "Tribes with Flags". It describes what happens when tribal societies get huge amounts of money without changing the rules of society.

2. I think that racism (like sexism or homophobia) is tribalism that has been de-humanized, reduced to an external signifier (skin color, gender, "racial" appearence) plus hatred. Its tribalism without compromise or nuance. Members of the "racial" group lose their status as human beings. Racists do not negotiate with their enemy; they try to enslave or exterminate them.

3. I think IdPol runs the gamut from mere tribalism to racism. I think that tribal solidarity can be a useful social organizing principal - so long as it respects the rights of other tribes, so long as it is willing to treat non-tribe members as worthy of respect and dialogue. But, when IdPol starts excommunicating everyone who does not pass some signifying test, it becomes "racist".

4. I think, in the long run (thousands of years), tribal difference can become genetic differences; although research on this would lead right back to scientific racism. Unfortunately, we know there are military labs working on racial weapons - based on DNA found more frequently in certain ethnic groups. The collateral damage from such weapons would be appalling. But, targeting a single person with unique SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) might be an assassination tool.

Thanks for the interesting question. This is only the briefest sketch of ideas.

up
5 users have voted.

"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false."

Mission accomplished.

up
23 users have voted.

bygorry

@bygorry

Not as lengthy an exposition as Mein Kampf, but they told us where they were headed. And we continued to fund them, even after Iran-Contra, even after the end of the Cold War.

up
18 users have voted.
Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@bygorry Mission unaccomplished.

I'm part of the American public.

Fuck him.

up
2 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

janis b's picture

and thought you would appreciate seeing the article.

Basically, Gazzaniga says, the lower-level instincts can be thought of as individual people in society, each with a certain behavior and a vote. He says complex instincts are the “state of societal relationships . . . [the] democracies” that result. Consciousness emerges, therefore, from how those democracies vote. It is those results, generated by layers and layers of neuronal bureaucracy, that we experience as fear, desire, determination, reasoning and decision-making.

up
9 users have voted.

@janis b

Thanks for taking the trouble to find something you thought would interest me. I do appreciate it.

The quote is interesting; but I think it over-anthropomorphisizes brain function. That is, it is personifying sub-functions of the brain that, IMHO, are not conscious.

instincts can be thought of as individual people in society

Yes, they could be "thought of" that way, but such thinking leads people away from the non-conscious nature of brain regions. I also object to the term "instincts", which is again a non-scientific description of brain function. My guess is that this quote was probably given to general audiences, not scientists. Also, while "emergent" is a huge buzzword these days, I think it again tends to mystify what is going on here. That is, he doesn't state exactly how consciousness "emerges".

I am a proponent of the Global Workspace Theory, as stated by Baars and experimentally proven by Dehaene. GWT says that various sub-assemblies are competing for the right to become conscious. The winner of each competition (and they happen every second or so) gets to broadcast its comprehension of the current situation to all the rest of the brain. The rest of the brain updates its state, and the process repeats forever. (Dehaene has published dozens of papers of fMRI experiments showing exactly how this broadcast process (which he calls "ignition") happens at a scale of about 300 milliseconds. Consciousness resides in the constant shifting flow of attention.

I like the GWT view because it makes consciousness more than merely an observer. Its decisions about what (IMHO, not whom - i.e., which sub-personality) to broadcast actively shapes on going decision making and personality development.

----

Apologies if you think I'm being too hard on Gazzainga. I'm not familiar with his publications, so I could be putting my own, incorrect interpretations on what he is saying.

up
11 users have voted.
janis b's picture

@arendt

I will read and consider your thoughts. It is a subject that deserves further consideration.

up
5 users have voted.

Only strongly expressed in a minority of the population. Well, maybe most people are born with just base levels in the same degree as other mammals. I think we tend to believe that people must be trained into logic. And then there belief systems built on faith and mystery such as Russiagate. And when someone begins asking questions trying to establish a rational explanation, they are pillared and attacked by the community of the faithful.

up
7 users have voted.

@MrWebster

We really don't want to go genetic determinism on thinking. It leads straight back to "scientific" racism. Charles Murray already pulled this crap on blacks in his "The Bell Curve".

Having said that, I think that if there is any genetic component to rationality (as opposed to "intelligence"), it might have something to do with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). I mean look at autism spectrum. A little bit autistic can make one a very successful techie; and techies are considered highly rational. Unfortunately, too much OCD makes a person socially useless and withdrawn.

The saving grace for this kind of thinking is that "more is not better". There is some optimum amount of OCD. So you do not want to keep selecting for more and more OCD. I think there is currently some speculation that smart folks marrying smart folks has some bearing on the increasing amount of autism spectrum disorders. Among my former company of about 100 people, I knew at least three people with kids on the autism spectrum.

up
5 users have voted.